The portrait of an acting legend: Albert Finney.

An actor who boxed with words and sentiments.

Written by Ioannis Makro

This article in Moviemaniac’s Blog, is dedicated to the almighty Albert Finney who passed away yesterday. He was as Christopher Eccleston said, “A godfather to us all”.

Albert Finney in Erin Brockovich (2000)

Albert Finney in Erin Brockovich (2000)

What does it mean, “great actor”?

Perhaps the greatest actors are the ones which, when you mention a movie where they have leaded in, most people react like this;

“Really? He was in that movie? In which role?” and after you show a picture or a video “Oh my god! You are right! I didn’t recognise him at all”.

In some other cases, you might mention the actor’s name;

“In which movies has he played in?” And after you say “Tom Jones (1963), Scrooge (1970), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Annie (1982), The Dresser (1983), Miller’s Crossing (1990), Erin Brockovich (2000), Big Fish (2003), Ocean’s Twelve (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), Skyfall (2012)”  they reply “Oh yes! Albert Finney!” 

Floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee

50 years of acting, 5 Oscar nominations, amazing performances in Comedies, Dramas, Mysteries, Musicals.

He breathed each moment on the film set or on stage, with a defiant confidence and a robust physicality. Like a boxer who doesn’t even need to lean in a little or cover and defend. A boxer who gave knock-out punches with words and expressed sentiments. Floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee.

One of the warmest voices in cinema’s history, one of the most characteristic English accents, one of the most almighty acting techniques. Albert Finney had a charmer’s smile and a killer’s look, able to get armed with either depending on the needs of his role.

Albert Finney in Scrooge (1970) and in Annie (1982)

Albert Finney in Scrooge (1970) and in Annie (1982)

He died aged 82 on February 8th 2019. Daniel Craig who starred as James Bond in Skyfall, Finney’s final film, called him “a giant”. Director Sam Mendes called him “life loving delight of a man”. Monty Python’s John Cleese wrote “The Best” and David Morrissey “A powerhouse of an actor” and Christopher Eccleston “A godfather to us all”. 

Albert Finney in Tom Jones (1963)

Albert Finney in Tom Jones (1963)

Murder on the Orient Express, Miller’s Crossing and Tom Jones

One can’t distinguish easily one out of so many great performances. I would deeply suggest for everyone to watch the Best Picture Awarded “Tom Jones” (1963) which is a comic adventure that many may have missed and where young Albert Finney shows off his wide range talent. “Miller’s Crossing” (1990) directed by the Coen brothers is another masterpiece in which he give a captivating performance. 

I presume that most have seen the “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974), where Albert Finney abandons his so characteristic English accent and transforms to a French - just kidding, Belgian - legendary detective, Hercules Poirot. Perhaps the most unforgettable Hercules Poirot, which you can briefly enjoy on the video below.

I don’t think that we necessarily lie. I mean, we make our living by pretending that we’re someone else. I don’t tell tall tales. I always tell the truth.
— Albert Finney on acting

Albert Finney in Murder on the Orient Express (1974)